Chicago Fire FC were back on the SeatGeek Stadium pitch on Tuesday afternoon for full-team training ahead of their participation in the upcoming MLS is Back Tournament, the schedule for which was announced league-wide on Wednesday.
Under the Chicago sun, spirits were high as head coach Raphael Wicky put his men through another session’s worth of individual and group drills prior to their departure to Florida.
Coming out of the session, goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm was feeling particularly energized.
“I feel really good now,” he said. “I was so excited to come back on the pitch again after the pandemic, so I’m very happy. I’m focused. I’m focused for the tournament in Orlando. I’m looking forward and want to be successful.”
The Fire are now just a hair over two weeks away from the MLS is Back Tournament’s July 8 opening day. While the final schedule remains to be revealed, Kronholm and co. will take on New York City FC as well as 2020 expansion sides Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF as part of the competition’s Group A.
Kronholm’s optimism stems from how close the team remained during its quarantine period, and how that communication has now translated into the group’s time together at training so far.
“We have so many individuals, so many great guys,” he said. “All of us are so professional. I had a very good feeling during the pandemic, because we were working so hard together. We had great communication. We stood together as a team. That gives me a very good feeling for the future. I’m proud to be a part of this team.”
Midfielder Ignacio Aliseda -- who was with the team for just six days prior to the league's March 12 suspension of the 2020 season -- echoed his teammate's sentiments on getting back to work.
"I'm happy to come back to training," the 20-year-old said via a translator. "I'm happy to be with the boys, too."
Aliseda is one of 17 newcomers representing the Fire in 2020, and will look to make his Club debut when the side kicks off its group stage slate of games in early July.
"There’s a lot of new guys like ourselves, so we are getting to know each other little by little but we are adapting to the group," he said. "They are also feeling good with us, so we’re better now and, well, we are just waiting for the tournament to begin."